#LINO18 Exceeded My Expectations

Before the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, I interviewed several talented female participants about their career path, their passion for science, their struggles and successes for my “Women in Research” blog – a blog to increase the visibility of women in research. Now after the meeting they shared their #LINO18 highlights with me. Be prepared to be blown away!

Future #LINO19 participants may find more information about the application process here.


Amy Shepherd from New Zealand

“The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was honestly one of the most surreal experiences of my life. The chance to hear and talk to some of the laureates was a super exciting thought, and it didn’t disappoint. From Richard Roberts’ impassioned talk on how the anti-GMO campaign has led to the unnecessary death of millions of people to Martin Chalfie’s joking advocacy for slightly sloppy science when starting something new, I learnt not about my specific branch of science, but much more about the scientific landscape and our role as young scientists in it.

Amy Shepherd and Harold Varmus during the #LINO18 panel discussion ‘Publish or Perish’. Photo/Credit: Patrick Kunkel/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

A question the laureates get constantly is “How do you win a Nobel Prize?”, but I think the much more interesting one is “What do you do IF you win it?”. A common theme was that after the prize, you really are in the limelight and have a platform to make change. Two examples of Nobel Laureates using their prizes to change the scientific community are Harold Varmus and Randy Scheckman, founders of PLOS one and eLife, respectively, who I was lucky enough to be on a panel with (along with EMBO President Maria Leptin and Springer Nature CEO Daniel Ropers) to discuss the role of ‘Publish or Perish’ in shaping the careers of young scientists – a life changing and exciting experience that’s going to be hard to beat!

What I found the most inspiring and valuable was meeting the other young scientists – representing 84 countries, the different fields and life experience we’ve all had, led to interesting and engaging discussions about specific scientific problems to the scientific community to world issues. I was incredibly lucky to be part of the #LindauAussies, and I think those friendships will last a lifetime. If you have the opportunity to go to this bizarre and wonderful meeting, I would highly recommend it.”

>>Read more about Amy


Rhiannon Edge from the UK

“Every young person with an interest in science should go to this event! Trust me, I’m a Doctor.

The meeting was like a conference on steroids – every speaker a keynote, and the programme packed – I doubt I got more than five hours sleep a night. The Nobel Laureates discussed both their work and their life journeys. Ada Yonath gave a particularly clear, concise, and engaging talk about her research on the ribosome, but she also spoke about her family and the families of her colleagues. She is proof that woman can have multiple roles in their working and personal lives and more importantly that it shouldn’t even be a big deal anymore.  

Rhiannon Edge and Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Rhiannon Edge

For me one of the nicest things about Lindau is the opportunity to connect with the Nobel Laureates on a personal level. Sitting next to Michael Rosbash for dinner and discussing our mutual respect for the determination of sports-people was something quite surreal. Lindau showed that Nobel Laureates are not that different from the rest of us – (in some cases) they still look forwards to a nice cold beer at the end of a long day! During our time at Lindau the differences between the young scientists and the Nobel Laureates began to blur – they were sympathetic to many of the challenges facing those who are working in science. I think that this is important to take away from the meeting – even the pinnacle of scientific achievement can be reached and surpassed – not by heroes but by people, with a little hard work, luck and an inquisitive mind.  

Many of the laureates used their notoriety associated with the award to pursue political issues. We already know the answers to many of the health issues affecting millions of people but often we choose not to help people. During a lunch with Peter Agre, he talked at length about his recent work as an advocate for improvements in global health (particularly focused on Malaria). I think these individuals should give us hope. I think we need to find our voices as advocates without first having to get a Nobel Prize and really speak up for the issues that still exist not because of a lack of understanding but because of a lack of political will!

As you may have realised, the conference was pretty inspiring!

The young scientists were the very best thing about Lindau. Everyone I met was interesting, engaging and enthusiastic. This made for an atmosphere of togetherness and scientific success that will stay with me for a very long time – as will the memories that I made at Lindau with my fellow young scientists.”

>>Read more about Rhiannon


Edith Phalane from South Africa

“My first impression and a joy-dropping moment was finally being able to see, speak one-one and shake hands with the Nobel Laureates. I have always read about the Nobel Laureates in textbooks and seen them on TV and the internet, so that moment when I finally saw and interacted with them was priceless.

Edith Phalane was a panellist during a Partner Breakfast by the Global Prespectives Initiative at #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

I enjoyed the talks by laureate Elizabeth Blackburn. She is one of the people that I look up to as a female scientist and Nobel Prize winner. Her talk on global science is something that is very close to my heart since I engage a lot in science communication for the public in disadvantaged communities. The talk captured my attention and ignited more hunger in me to do more in terms of sharing science with the public.

One of the other greatest highlights was participating in a partner breakfast hosted by the Global Perspective Initiative as part of the panel where we were discussing ‘Health Innovation in Africa: The Way Forward’. It was really an honour and a privilege to sit and discuss matters that concern Africa; I have never been given such an opportunity. The after effect of the discussion was even more touching and humbling as I witnessed us, the African young scientists, coming together to form a group and collaboration that we want to expand beyond Lindau to discuss, write and publish matters that we face in Africa and implement solution for challenges we face in Africa in our own capacity.”

>>Read more about Edith


Arunima Roy from India

“What I loved the most about Lindau was to hear of each laureate’s journey from their training to their important discoveries. It made me appreciate that each one of us has a unique path ahead of us and that there is no standard blueprint for doing research. Indeed, most laureates stressed the importance of enjoying our work instead of actively planning for a career. It was inspiring, comforting, to hear of their serendipitous discoveries, their errors and of the times they had faltered. It made me understand that no one miraculously conceives of an award-winning experiment or wakes up one day to write their career-defining manuscript. It takes time, effort and a bit of luck. Bottom-line: there is no scientific way to doing science. It is important to understand this, because we often get sucked into habitual pessimism given our frequently failed experiments, paper rejections, unsuccessful grants and so forth. What the laureates taught us is that it is okay to fail, that they, too, have faced such instances numerous times over their scientific careers.

Arunima Roy participated as a panellist in the #LINO18 panel discussion ‘Science in a Post-Factual World’. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The Lindau Meeting exceeded my expectations. I think every young scientist that has the opportunity to participate in this meeting, should definitely do so. I doubt we will come across any other opportunity to engage with Nobel Laureates so closely. Outside, there may be the occasional opportunity to hear a lecture or two, but one-to-one interactions like this can only be found at Lindau. I also benefited from this meeting in numerous other ways. One was that it gave me the opportunity to discuss and present my research. Moreover, on a day-to-day basis, I am entirely engaged with my own specific field. The Lindau lectures as well as interactions with other researchers represent a full week immersed in scientific knowledge from across dozens of disciplines. The kid in me was lost in this candy store of exciting research possibilities. It also provides some food for thought and perhaps new ways to think of our own research. It is invigorating to discuss research from other areas, and it is an eye-opening experience; who knows where the next idea will come from or if that interesting researcher you met at the Lindau meeting turns out to be your next collaborator.”

>>Read more about Arunima


Mieke Metzemaekers from the Netherlands

“The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting exceeded all my expectations and definitely was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I have met many inspiring people from all over the world, of all levels and ages, ranging from undergraduate students to Nobel Laureates. Right from the start, everyone was so enthusiastic and friendly! All participants, each with his or her own cultural and professional background, had one major thing in common: a strong passion for science. It was amazing to see how such shared ambitions are sufficient to let people connect, inspire and motivate each other, while creating a sense of belonging between people from not less than 84 countries. It must be the so-called Lindau Spirit!

Mieke (second from right) with other young scientists during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Mieke Metzemaekers

The meeting was extraordinarily well organised. The programme was highly diverse and interactive and not dedicated to any specific research field in particular. On the contrary, we mostly discussed the more global issues which all scientists are confronted with, regardless their field of interest or level – such as science and society, leadership, impact factors and how to choose your career path. Therefore, the Lindau Meeting offers unique opportunities to exchange experiences with other researchers; it really allows you to broaden your horizon.

A regular day in Lindau started with a scientific breakfast, followed by lectures, panel discussions, agora talks, master classes and open exchange sessions. These scientific sessions were followed by social events in the evening. The programme was intense, but every evening I went back to my hotel feeling very energetic. In my opinion, the Lindau Meetings are extremely valuable, not only from a professional but also from a personal point of view. It is obvious that I fully recommend every young scientist to apply for this meeting!”

>>Read more about Mieke


Gintvile Valinciute from Lithuania

“The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was an amazing experience full of interesting people and inspiring interactions. I felt as a part of something bigger, an international, caring and active community of people who either shaped the science as it is today or will create the science of tomorrow.

Gintvile Valinciute was speaking during the #LINO18 panel discussion ‘Challenges in Personalised Medicine’. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Every lecture, every workshop, even the discussions in the line for lunch were enriching and very positive. Personally, I enjoyed the discussions on science communication, career choices and current problems of science the most. I believe 600+ people from all around the globe putting their heads together to solve few of the discussed issues could make a great impact on society. Another personal highlight for me was the panel discussion “Challenges in Personalised Medicine” where I was invited to be a panellist. Even though I was nervous, I enjoyed being able to contribute to the meeting with ideas of my own.

Before coming to the Lindau Meeting, I had no idea how to meet new people at conferences, how to approach them, in general, how to network. I think the networking skills and the new contacts, not only the Nobel Laureates, but also the young scientists are the most valuable gifts I brought from Lindau. I am very grateful for the opportunity to participate in this amazing celebration of science and scientists.”

>>Read more about Gintvile


Menattallah Elserafy from Egypt

“The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was a true inspiration for me. The lectures, Agora Talks, science walks and discussions were really enlightening, as they touched on many different topics including publishing, ethics, clinical relevance of research and how the world can benefit from science.

I enjoyed listening to the various talks and learning new lessons that will help me along my career in science. These lessons include the importance of basic research, which is mainly driven by curiosity and passion. The laureates described their research with great passion and explained how their findings were not planned, but their hard work and persistence enabled them to explain new mechanisms that no one understood before.

Menattallah (left) with Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad and Ahmed El-badawy during #LINO18. Picture/Credit: Courtesy of Menattallah Elserafy

I also realised the importance of facilitating the application of research findings to solve global problems. For example, Sir Richard J. Roberts discussed the issue of strict regulations that delay the usage of genetically modified food, which could be a great solution for eradicating hunger in Africa. The discussions with Prof. Randy Schekman taught us that science should be judged by its quality rather than where it is published. Finally, all laureates explained that the drive behind research should be the curiosity to answer specific questions and not rewards and prizes.

The participation of young researches from 84 countries made us realise that the world is very small and that researchers from our generation across the globe have the same dreams and aspirations.  I encourage young researches to apply for the next Lindau Meetings to benefit from the experience and enjoy the interaction with the Nobel Laureates as much as we did.”

>>Read more about Menattallah


Rushita Bagchi from Canada

“No words can do perfect justice in describing the week at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. It was an extraordinary and unforgettable week, and it was truly inspiring in all aspects. The meeting provided the perfect platform to share the experience and knowledge of the greatest leaders in science with the next generation of scientists to encourage us to work hard for the benefit of mankind. A common thread existed among each of the laureates’ stories and their path to success: curiosity, tenacity, persistence, creativity and enthusiasm. The opportunity to meet these great minds allowed me to better appreciate them not just as Nobel Prize winners but as individuals who have overcome many of the same obstacles we all face in our pursuit of science every day. All their stories have resonated with me and will continue to inspire me to never give up and to never lose sight of why I chose to pursue science. The broad diversity of topics discussed in the newly introduced Agora Talks at this meeting was impressive, ranging from the laureates’ journey to the Nobel Prize to personalised medicine to careers in science. It was inspiring to witness the motivation and passion these laureates still showed after decades of pursuing scientific research.

Rushita Bagchi with Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Rushita Bagchi

The great networking effort and willingness to discuss science by all young scientists was seen every day throughout the meeting. I have gained tremendous knowledge, made new friends as well as potential colleagues at this meeting – a whole new world has opened up to me. Peter Agre said: “Science is an amazing trip; you will never know where it is going to take you”. Science is what brought me to this meeting and enriched me with this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Every young scientist, especially aspiring young women scientists, should find an opportunity to be a part of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings – it will change your perspective of science and its pursuit. A week on the beautiful island of Lindau on Lake Constance, this meeting will truly educate, inspire and connect you with the brightest young and experienced minds in science beyond any boundaries.”

>>Read more about Rushita Bagchi


Nataly Naser Al Deen from Lebanon

“The 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it by far exceeded our expectations. The scientific spirit around the Inselhalle and the entire Lindau island was phenomenal. We got the chance to meet with Nobel Laureates in many interactive settings, including agora talks, open exchange and the master classes. I was very honoured to have gotten the chance to participate in a panel discussion along with Nobel Laureate Prof. Peter Agre on “Medical Innovations in Developing Nations”. I also was very honoured to conduct a video interview with one of my hero Nobel Laureates Prof. Michael Bishop, and got the chance to attend all the events and various lectures by Laureates, which we learned a lot from.

Nataly Naser Al Deen and Nobel Laureate Michael Bishop during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Nataly Naser Al Deen

Being able to connect with 600 talented young scientists from all over the world was very fruitful. We all discussed our scientific projects without any boundaries, and we also shared insights and experiences on future collaborations and scientific advice, be it exchanging ideas regarding experimental procedures or asking each other very insightful questions, which made us think of our research projects from various perspectives and multidisciplinary fields. One of my favourite moments was when I held the farewell speech on behalf of the young scientists to thank everyone that made this meeting happen and reflect upon this surreal week. I was also beyond happy to participate in the Max Planck post event that was on its own a very educational and inspiring trip.

I am forever grateful to my institution, AUB, and all the Lindau staff and partners that made this amazing experience possible for us, and I advise every woman in science to apply to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, because it is certainly a life changing experience. Thank you Lindau!”

>>Read more about Nataly


Forough Khadem from Canada and Iran

“Attending the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was a once-in-a-lifetime, unforgettable, astonishing adventure that started for me with the incredible moment of winning the Lindau award at the Canadian Student Health Research Forum and being nominated to attend the Lindau Meeting. Two years later, I received the exceptional selection email from the Lindau Meeting’s committee, the consequent emails from the staff (Nadine, Karen and Nasrin) which made the trip and the stay at Lindau very smooth and the personalised programme that was tailored for my scientific and professional development interests.

Forough Khadem on Mainau Island during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Forough Khadem

The amalgamation of the 39 Nobel Laureates, invited guests, undergrads, graduates and post-docs that created a vibrant group of researchers who instantly became a big family and communicated in a scientific and communal level during the meeting and in social events was incredible and hard to describe (it must be experienced!). We discussed topics from personalised medicine, gene modification, GMOs, international industry-academic research collaborations, better publication standards and ways to improve scientific communication. My take home messages from personal encounters with the laureates, guests at panels, dinners, lunches and lecture events are as follows:

1) “Innovative ways of measuring academic achievements other than via the impact factor are imaginable” – Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman

2) “One should follow their scientific interests and no other priorities in pursuing one’s interests.” – Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler

3) “Don’t be scared to approach laureates and talk to them on a personal and intellectual level. Be persistent and take advantage of the opportunity that all laureates are here to spend quality time with you.” – Nobel Laureates Richard Roberts and Martin Chalfie

4) “Real scientists should spend more time to communicate their research to the community via any communication means especially social media” – Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty

5) “Go after YOUR career dreams no matter how ambitious they are” – guest speaker Alaina Levine (on the Mainau Island boat trip!)

I not only encourage all young scientists to attend a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, I also recommend attending the Post Lindau Baden-Württemberg one-week visit to research institutes and universities organised by BW-International, which is an eye-opening experience, as I had the privilege to be among the 20 young scientists that went on this post Lindau Meeting trip.”

>>Read more about Forough


Harshita Sharma from India

“Participating in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was an excellent opportunity and an unforgettable experience for me, both professionally and personally. The meeting motto ‘Educate. Inspire. Connect.’ summarises it the best, and being a postdoc and early-stage researcher, I could totally relate to the various aspects of science, education and research addressed and discussed by Nobel Laureates and young scientists. Every moment is special to me and words are not enough to describe this phenomenally fascinating week, but I will still attempt to describe my most favourite ones…

Firstly, I was ecstatic and thrilled to interact with the Noble Laureates. They shared with the young scientists their unique success stories in their fields of research and also common qualities which have helped them achieve the best in their scientific careers, such as perseverance, dedication, passion, kindness (and as they say, a little bit of luck!). The beauty of this meeting is how the renowned and early career scientists come together to share ideas, leading to a bidirectional exchange which not only inspires young scientists, but also stimulates the Nobel Laureates.

Harshita and Nobel Laureate Steven Chu during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Harshita Sharma

Moreover, it was great to meet vibrant and charismatic young scientists (or future laureates, as we were often addressed!) from 84 countries. I made friends for life and it also opened doors for future scientific collaborations!

Last but not the least, I loved the rich format of the meeting with diverse interactions, including laureate lectures, Agora Talks, panel discussions, poster sessions, open exchanges, special evening events and more. It gave us the opportunity to be involved in significant scientific, cultural and social exchange each day. On the last day, the boat trip to Mainau and picnic was also very exciting. A special thanks to the staff and support team as the entire meeting was superbly planned and organised.

Overall, I had a wonderful time at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and will always cherish these memories. I would also encourage young researchers to apply and not to miss the amazing opportunity to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Thank you #LINO18 for a spectacular week in Lindau!”

>>Read more about Harshita


Lara Urban from Germany

Unless it is absolutely impossible, check it out – what good advice from Nobel Laureate Peter Agre. And I heard so many of them in just a week at Lindau. As I listened to the successful scientists talk candidly about their own experiences, with unassuming humour and self-awareness, I felt like I was part of their community, and for that I am very grateful.

Lara Urban (third from left) and other young scientists talking to Nobel Laureate Steven Chu (left) during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Lara Urban

What made the Nobel Laureates relatable is their willingness to share moments and aspects of their life that are independent of their breakthroughs. I enjoyed chatting to Elizabeth Blackburn about studying in Cambridge and exchanged jokes with J. Michael Bishop on working with poisonous animals during a very entertaining dinner on the waterfront of Lake Constance. I also admired how Steven Chu talked about political responsibilities of scientists in combating climate change on a boat trip to beautiful Mainau Island and the vigour with which Randy Schekman and Harold Varmus championed new standards in evaluating scientific achievements.

The Nobel Laureates are inspiring in that they are ordinary people with convictions, which means that all of our work and convictions, if carried through, can have positive impacts on this world, whether they are acknowledged with an award or not. After one week of listening to the Nobel Laureates reflect on their own lives and meeting like-minded young scientists with similar interests and values as myself, I am assured a life in scientific research is fun, varied and exciting, and we should face it with nothing less than confidence and curiosity. As Marie Curie puts it: Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”

>>Read more about Lara


Jeerapond Leelawattanachai from Thailand

 

Jeerapond Leelawattanachai and Nobel Laureate Peter Agre during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Itthi Chatnuntawech

“Participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a priceless once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. I particularly enjoyed both the academic and social events as the meeting covers in-depth academic research as well as offering me a unique opportunity to interact with the Noble Laureates. During the meeting, I got to know more about them and how they overcame many obstacles in their careers to be able to achieve the research that transforms many people’s lives. Along with meeting these inspiring Nobel Prize winners, the meeting also offered me a wonderful opportunity to exchange academic ideas, update the trends of current research and make friends with the young scientists from all over the world. I really appreciate and cherish the friendships we have built since it is always my desires to expand the research boundary, broaden the perspective in the field, and help to support each other in the science community. In addition, I am beyond honoured to have been part of the wonderful panel discussion along with Noble Laureate Peter Agre and young scientists from Lebanon and Germany to discuss the important topics for developing countries. I am impressed by the insight and the tremendous care for the others from these panellists. It genuinely reiterates the spirit, “for the greatest benefit to mankind,” of this meeting. I am pleased and grateful for this opportunity to have my voice heard on this far-reaching stage.

With all these reasons, I wholeheartedly recommended this meeting to every young scientist all around the world. Please take this once-in-a-life time opportunity!”

>>Read more about Jeerapond


Shilpa Bisht from India

“The one week which I have spent at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting were the best days of my life. I realised that it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an early career researcher as it provides opportunity to meet a wide range of scientists ranging from Nobel Laureates to young scientists. This meeting has totally changed my vision and perspective towards science. The entire week in Lindau was dedicated to exchanging knowledge, ideas and scientific intellects and some of the Nobel Laureates even exchanged their ideas about “how to win a Nobel Prize”.  It was awesome to get tips from Prof. Robert Huber about scientific pursuits and maintaining a work-life balance. He had also shared his thoughts regarding facing difficulties in life, how to find balance during challenging times in life and shared his thoughts regarding moving ahead even after continuous failures.

Shilpa Bisht (second from right) with other young scientists from India during #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Shilpa Bisht

In addition, this meeting also comprised group discussion activities like the Mars Partner Breakfast, Agora Talks, open scientific discussions to exchange views on current scientific issues. These discussions and sessions have given me a great thrust, and now I am more motivated and confident than ever to try my very best in research. In addition to all this, I enjoyed this meeting to the fullest and made new friends from all around the world.

The Lindau Meeting is a one-of-a-kind meeting and provides a terrific opportunity to network with scientists across the globe, be it networking with Nobel Laureates or with other young scientists. It is one of the rarest opportunity that one researcher can have in his/her life and every young scientist must apply and go for it.

In brief, the Lindau experience is incomparable, and one must go for it!”

>>Read more about Shilpa

Do not Lose Confidence in Yourself

Interview with Lindau Alumna Martine Abboud

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Martine and get inspired.

Martine Abboud from Lebanon is a Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She participated in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting as an Eddy Fischer Lindau Fellow. Her doctoral research made use of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study the activity of two classes of enzymes in important biological processes. Her work has led to novel method applications, the mechanistic understanding of these enzymes, and the development of inhibitors for them. She is currently working on metabolic enzymes involved in cancer.

 

Martine Abboud in her lab. Photo/Credit: Martine Abboud

What inspired you to pursue a career in science?

I have always been driven by curiosity. I grew up asking my parents loads of questions about everything around us. I was so fascinated by the stars and galaxies that I wanted to become an astronaut. However, during my teenage years my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. He was one of the closest people to my heart, and his illness made me question my career choices. I wanted to help people but did not feel suited to working in a hospital, so I decided to pursue a career in scientific research.

 

Who are your role models?

My role model in science is a bright mind, who makes impactful contributions, and who is a beautiful human being at the same time. To me, academic merit is as equally important as being kind.
During my time in Oxford, I have discovered a genuine enthusiasm for scientific research, which has undoubtedly been enhanced by my supervisor’s support and positive attitude. Prof C. Schofield has given me the freedom to work on various fascinating and rewarding projects which span multiple areas of research. His guidance style suits my curious nature and has helped my development as a scientist enormously, allowing me to acquire practical skills in a range of topics and biochemical/physical techniques. My NMR work with Prof T. Claridge has also nurtured my passion for research even further. These two along with former mentors at LAU, Profs S. Tokajian, C. Daher, R. Taleb, and S. Ammous, are people I look up to. They have inspired me to thrive.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

At the undergraduate level, I started by learning biology to better understand physiological processes and their pathological implications. Soon after, I realised that biology and chemistry are complementary and that an understanding of both fields is important to achieve results of clinical relevance. Hence, I went for a secondary focus in chemistry, both at the Lebanese American University (LAU), from which I graduated with the President’s award for excellence and leadership skills.
The interdisciplinary doctoral programme in Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford caught my attention as I was excited to work at this interface. Coming from a minority background, I was scared of applying to Oxford because of how competitive and prestigious it is, but my mother was right – not applying is a definite rejection. I am glad I did. During my time there, I was provided with opportunities I never dreamt I would be lucky enough to have. Three years later, I graduated with a Thesis Commendation at the university divisional level, winning awards from both academia and industry.
Being Lebanese, another major challenge was securing funding. The government does not have support funds and most non-Lebanese funds are available to select nationalities. My doctoral studies would not have been possible without the support of the British Biochemical Society through the Sir Hans Krebs Memorial Award, college and departmental grants and prizes, and the guidance of my former and current mentors, to whom I am beyond grateful.
Having been granted a Junior Research Fellowship from Kellogg College, Oxford, last year, I am developing my skills further. I think basic research is important in understanding molecular mechanisms and I have enjoyed doing both proof-of-principle and applied studies. I am interested in enabling science, community, and policy to combat antimicrobial resistance and I am pursuing work on the metabolic enzymes involved in cancer with the aim of starting my independent academic group in the future.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

During my doctoral studies, I worked on antibiotic resistance and, more specifically, on metallo-β-lactamases (MBLs) which degrade the β-lactam antibiotics: the most commonly used class of antibiotics. My method development using protein-observe 19F-NMR has provided new structural insights into MBL catalysis and the requirements for inhibitor development. My work with cyclobutanone shed light on MBL mechanism and showed that it may mimic the formation of the oxyanion tetrahedral intermediate in β-lactam hydrolysis. I have studied the susceptibility of avibactam, the first clinically useful non-β-lactam β-lactamase inhibitor, to MBL-catalysed hydrolysis. The results revealed that avibactam is not an MBL inhibitor and a poor substrate of most members of all three clinically relevant subclasses of MBLs.
I have also applied NMR methods to study the human prolyl hydroxylase domain-containing protein 2 (PHD2), which is crucially involved in the chronic hypoxic response. The hypoxic response is important under normal conditions, but also at high altitudes and in cancerous conditions. My work showed that the substitution of a single amino acid, as occurs with PHD2 variants linked to erythrocytosis and breast cancer, can alter the selectivity of PHD2 towards its substrates. Competition and displacement assays were designed and applied to investigate PHD inhibitor binding modes. Comparative studies on the activities and selectivities of PHD inhibitors in clinical trials should aid in the work on the therapeutic manipulation of the natural hypoxic response.

 

Eddy Fischer Lindau Fellow Martine Abboud with Nikolaus Turner, Managing Director of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, and Ernst Ludwig Winnacker, Director of The Vallee Foundation. Photo/Credit: Patrick Kunkel/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

I was beyond thrilled to be selected to represent the university at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and to be named a Future Leader in my field by the American Chemical Society CAS SciFinder programme. Unlike traditional conferences, these two meetings were focused on what shapes a scientist and on the importance of science communication, leadership, outreach activities, interdisciplinary science, and global integration. All of these topics are close to my heart as I have advocated for them on internal committees in our department. My proudest moments have always been about lobbying and succeeding in introducing change to internal policies. My recent achievement, along with other committee members, was introducing management trainings for new principal investigators/group leaders. I believe that being great at science and people management are not necessarily related; these trainings will help to further create a better environment for graduate students, ensure their wellbeing, and encourage a culture of proper life-work balance.

 

What is a ‘day in the life’ of Martine like?

A day in the lab is never typical. It varies a lot depending on what types of experiment are being done. But one thing is common: we always encounter surprises! Working in a lab environment is flexible but never boring, and that’s an aspect I enjoy. A protein preparation, for instance, requires spending a few hours in a cold room (4°C) while protein NMR-ing takes an overnight run in the basement. I have spent so much time with these machines that I have even given them nicknames! Experiments do not always go as planned and this is okay. Life in research has taught me how to deal with failures, enjoy the small successes, and keep going. It is important to troubleshoot all the time as some of the most exciting discoveries in science come from mistakes. Determination, perseverance, and serendipity are keys in scientific research.
My day will, however, always include a cup of tea. Our group is very international and we enjoy sharing a dynamic environment. I end up learning exciting cultural aspects over tea most of the time. Other days in the lab involve writing or meeting with collaborators and these are as important as doing the experimental work. It is crucial to communicate our findings with the scientific community: it puts our science into perspective, shapes our future direction and, sometimes, even helps in influencing policy.

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

I have come to realise that success in science is not an overnight effort. It is the accumulation of years of hard work. I would love to have an independent academic career and I aspire to meaningfully contribute to society. There is nothing better than leaving a legacy. My dream is to contribute back to my society by helping build a research centre in the Middle Eastern region. I have worked with Oxford Entrepreneurs earlier this year and helped in organising the Oxford Hackathon. Over 300 students from 90+ universities attended; there are so many bright minds and ideas out there that just need to be given the right opportunities. I hope to inspire the next generation of scientists through Oxford and build bridges between science and entrepreneurship in both regions as science has no nationality.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

In my free time, I like painting and poetry writing. Science and art are complementary on various levels. Art sets me free; the alchemy of colours with no boundaries is very relaxing to me. I do enjoy attending events and talks which are stimulating and intellectually challenging. Recently, I have become interested in coding and computer science. Electronic information and machine learning are on the rise. Chemists are not meant to be lifetime technicians. Accordingly, we need to learn how to keep being creative in a technological era. Using the power of AI will help us with our daily tasks. I also write scientific articles to various magazines and blogs, contribute to different societies (including the Oxford Arab Society and Oxford Entrepreneurs), and run events and social media outlets. My ultimate guilty pleasures remain travelling and watching football though.

 

Martine Abboud in conversation with Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert at #LINO18. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science?

As young women, we are more prone to being victims of implicit bias. We need to be more assertive in the workplace. Curiosity is the driving force of a scientist. The most exciting discoveries arise from mistakes. My advice is do not be afraid to make mistakes. Troubleshoot and think critically all the time. It might feel hard sometimes, but keep going. Do not lose confidence in yourself. Manage your time and do your tasks. There are networks of more experienced women who can help and support us; do not be afraid to speak out, reach out, and get involved.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in physiology/medicine?

Our understanding of the human brain and of driving forces in developmental biology is still very limited. Novel discoveries in these fields will definitely be breakthroughs. The same applies to developing novel and more powerful methods enabling quicker drug discovery and deeper biological understanding.

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

Encouraging women to become scientists is unfortunately not enough. If we do really want more women to be involved, we need to create the right environments for them to thrive. As much as mobility is important to provide scientists with wider perspectives, the current culture of “postdoctoral nomading” is very destabilising and difficult for people with partners and/or caring responsibilities. It should not be a prerequisite on fellowship applications; women should not feel pressurised into changing environments every couple of years. Another simple example for creating suitable environments is by not holding talks/seminars after 4 pm. People with caring responsibilities are directly excluded from these meetings and this can make them wrongly feel guilty and/or less dedicated than their colleagues. Proper life-work balance is important and nurturing; it enhances productivity and happiness.

 

Additional Note: A video interview with Martine Abboud at #LINO18 can be watched here.

Science Without Borders: New Nature Outlook Published

The new edition of Nature Outlook focuses on science in emerging economies. Illustration: Taj Francis; Copyright: Nature.

The latest issue of Nature Outlook, produced with support from Mars, Incorporated, is out! Our media partner Nature once again has published a special supplement to their scientific journal featuring the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. It focuses on empowering scientists in emerging economies and includes articles about #LINO18. Expect a profound insight into the current status of scientific research in low- and middle-income countries.

Thomas A. Steitz 1940–2018

Thomas Steitz with young scientists at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2018. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The Council and Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings deeply mourns the loss of laureate Thomas Steitz, who sadly passed away on 9 October 2018 at the age of 78. He received the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his studies on ribosomes.

Steitz completed his Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology at Harvard University in 1966. After research stays in Europe, he moved back to the US. He was a Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Professor of Chemistry at Yale University.

Thomas Steitz participated in four Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, only recently in 2018. The Council and Foundation extend their deep sympathies to Thomas Steitz’ family.

Lindauer Nobelpreisträger-Steg entsteht

Am Therese-von-Bayern-Platz vor der neuen Lindauer Inselhalle wird der Nobelpreisträger-Steg entstehen. © Ingenieurbüro Sabine Wiederer

Am Donnerstag, den 4. Oktober 2018 sind die Bauarbeiten für den Lindauer Nobelpreisträger-Steg fortgesetzt worden. Der neu entstehende Steg bildet künftig die zentrale Station des Lindauer Wissenspfades und ehrt die rund 400 Nobelpreisträger, die seit Gründung der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen 1951 in Lindau waren.

Weitere Informationen zum Stegbau lesen Sie in unserer Pressemitteilung.

New Principle for Cancer Therapy: Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology 2018

Today, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo for their discovery of cancer therapy by inhibition of negative immune regulation.

2018 Nobel Laureates James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo. Ilustration: Niklas Elmehed. Copyright: Nobel Media AB 2018

From the press release of the Karolinska Institutet

“Cancer kills millions of people every year and is one of humanity’s greatest health challenges. By stimulating the inherent ability of our immune system to attack tumor cells this year’s Nobel Laureates have established an entirely new principle for cancer therapy.

James P. Allison studied a known protein that functions as a brake on the immune system. He realized the potential of releasing the brake and thereby unleashing our immune cells to attack tumors. He then developed this concept into a brand new approach for treating patients.

In parallel, Tasuku Honjo discovered a protein on immune cells and, after careful exploration of its function, eventually revealed that it also operates as a brake, but with a different mechanism of action. Therapies based on his discovery proved to be strikingly effective in the fight against cancer.

Allison and Honjo showed how different strategies for inhibiting the brakes on the immune system can be used in the treatment of cancer. The seminal discoveries by the two Laureates constitute a landmark in our fight against cancer.”

Read more about the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Learn more about the possibilities of immunotherapies in our topic cluster. 

Spotlight on Women in Research at #LINO18

Many talented female researchers are among the young scientists of #LINO18. In this interview series, they answer questions about their career path, their passion for science, their struggles and successes and give advice to other women in research.

Get inspired by…

Gintvile Valinciute from Lithuania

Menattallah Elserafy from Egypt

Lara Urban from Germany

Amy Shepherd from New Zealand

Rhiannon Edge from the UK

Nataly from Lebanon

Arunima Roy from India

Mieke Metzemaekers from the Netherlands

Miriam Van Dyke from the United States

Forough Khadem from Iran

Edith Phalane from South Africa

Harshita Sharma from India

Chelsea Cockburn from the USA

Lisa Nicholas from Malaysia

Mariana Alves from Portugal

Jeerapond Leelawattanachai from Thailand

Kayoko Shioda from Japan

and

Rushita Bagchi from India.

 

To be continued…

 

 

These interviews are part of a series of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter).

Welcome to the Lindau Alumni Network

Last year, in time for the 67. Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, we launched the Lindau Alumni Network. The Lindau Alumni Network is the exclusive online community for alumni of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. A digital space to keep the “Lindau Spirit” alive. Now, after a year of interactions and more than 1000 active users, we would like to announce the launch of the updated and redesigned Lindau Alumni Network!

Photo/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Login for Lindau Alumni and 2018 Young Scientists

Lindau Alumni who already had access to the Lindau Alumni Network, including all alumni of the 2013–2017 meetings, have a profile in the new community. They will be invited by email to activate their profile.  In order to foster online interaction prior to this year’s meeting, access to the Lindau Alumni Network is already open for #LINO18 participants. They, too, can login by activating their profile by clicking on the link in their invitation email. Other Lindau Alumni can now easily request an invitation to join the community on the public login page.

Features of the Lindau Alumni Network

The Lindau Alumni  Network still has all the core features, some were considerably expanded. Here are some of the improved features that wait for you in the Lindau Alumni Network:

  • Search the alumni directory for fellow scientists: A world map gives you a quick overview of Lindau Alumni near you. Use search operators including name, home institution, home country, alma mater, work group, year of the attended meeting and more. As the Lindau Alumni Network grows, so will the search directory.
  • Find alumni events: The Lindau Alumni Network is the place to find announcements and invitations for local and global Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings alumni events. The next event Lindau Alumni can register for is our first Lindau Alumni Workshop with Alaina Levine on 10 July 2018 in Toulouse, France. In the new Lindau Alumni Network, it is easier for Lindau Alumni to create and promote their own events! The trips feature lets alumni easily inform others about their upcoming travel, making informal meet ups easier to organize.  
  • Expanded personal profile: A personal profile page is created for every alumnus or alumna based on their submitted data from the application process. Every Lindau Alumni Network user has control over the information that is shared, and can add details on, e.g., research interests or personal background. As a new feature, users can now add information to their profile by importing their LinkedIn or Xing profile.
  • Exchange ideas: The Lindau Alumni Network offers a number of ways to exchange ideas, plans and anecdotes with others. The “Activity” stream offers a timeline similar to that of popular social networks, with options to easily share interesting links, fascinating videos and evocative images. A news section will include exclusive blog articles and interviews with Lindau Alumni. The trips feature lets alumni easily inform others about their upcoming travel, making informal meet ups easier to organize.    
  • Organise with other alumni: Users can create or join groups and this way organise with fellow alumni around shared interests and experiences. Groups administered by the alumni and communications team are a unique way to stay up-to-date with all things revolving around the Lindau Meetings.   
  • Peruse the job and calls board: The Lindau Alumni Network includes a job board that will be updated with select, high quality job offers and calls for papers and nominations to conference. The job board offers a space to find qualified, skilled employees and partners who are already part of a select group: The Lindau Alumni.
Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Users can find more information on how to use these features within the Lindau Alumni Network. For any questions or suggestions regarding the Lindau Alumni Network and other alumni activities, please contact Christoph Schumacher, the Alumni and Community Manager.

 

>>Log-in to the Lindau Alumni Network Here

 

Final Preparations: Lindau Calling! (#LINO18)

In just a few days, Lindau’s newly renovated meeting venue Inselhalle will open its doors to a week full of science, inspirational exchange and education. We, the organising team of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, are very much looking forward to having this incredible number of bright minds here on our small island.

 

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

By now, you’ve probably gone through the numerous different phases of preparation, perhaps even packing. So let us give you some last minute guidance and lists for repacking your gear.

 

The Programme

Perhaps you’ve already gotten around to checking this year’s meeting programme. If not, don’t worry – here’s the link to the full programme.

 

Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman during #LINO17. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Getting Here

As there will not be any shuttle buses to Lindau that are organised by us, you will have to organise your trip to Lindau by yourself.

Most likely, you’ll be arriving in Lindau by train. All airports you might be flying into offer connections to “Lindau Hbf” (the train station to head to) via train. You can either buy a ticket at the train stations or via www.bahn.com. You have arrived in Lindau as soon as you see water to your left, to your right and in front of you. Welcome to Lake Constance!

If you plan on coming to Lindau via Munich please make sure to double check your train connections online at www.bahn.com. Due to ongoing construction work on the route, there are no direct trains from Munich to Lindau and vice versa. You will have to change trains in either Augsburg or Ulm, and in some cases take a bus between Geltendorf and Buchloe, which will prolong your total travel time. Alternatively , you can also take a direct bus from Munich to Lindau.  You can check connections and book your bus ticket at www.flixbus.com. In order to get to the Munich bus terminal, you will have to take the S1 or S8 train from Munich Airport to Munich Hackerbrücke (tickets for those trains are also available at bahn.com) and then walk two minutes to the bus terminal called ” München ZOB”. 

 

Registration

In order to take advantage of everything Lindau has to offer, you need to register with us and get your conference materials. Upon registration, you will receive your name badge, which gives you access to the various programme events, your personal agenda, the final programme and more.

Registration will take place on Saturday, 23 June, 15.00-18.00 hrs.  and on Sunday, 24 June, 10.00-20.00 hrs. Please note that you will have to show a valid ID at the registration desk. Make sure to register early in order to take your seats in time for the Opening Ceremony.  

 

Everything Else You Need to Know

The Opening Ceremony starts on Sunday at 15.00 hrs, so please make sure you are registered and seated by 14.45 hrs. For security reasons, you are not allowed to bring any large bags. For your convenience, there is a depository truck, where your luggage will be securely stored. You will have to have your name badge and valid ID-card with you for access.

For a Google Map with all the important places in Lindau, please click here (or check the meeting app):

 

 

What to Bring & What to Wear

There is no dress code for the regular scientific sessions. For invitational dinners, you may want to bring something more festive (suits, cocktail dresses). As the lake is great for swimming, you may want to bring swim wear. Some of the local swimming pools even offer free entrance for the participants of the Lindau Meeting. Sunscreen and mosquito repellents are a good idea as well. 

Make sure to bring comfortable shoes that are suitable for cobblestone roads and different weather conditions. A hairdryer may be useful as well as a voltage converter (220 volt) or adapter as German socket-outlets vary from those abroad.

Over the last years, one of the events has become particularly popular among all participants: the “Bavarian Evening” hosted by the Free State of Bavaria. For this, it is a great idea to wear a traditional festive costume from your home country. Those of you who own a traditional Bavarian costume (a Dirndl dress for women and Lederhosen for men) are more than welcome to wear that instead.

 

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Morning Workouts

For those of you participating in the morning workouts: please bring comfortable sportswear, a towel and sturdy sneakers. Water bottles will be provided upon registration.

 

Internet & Phones

The meeting venue is equipped with wireless LAN (WiFi). 

It’s always helpful if you bring along your mobile phone so that we will be able to contact you easily. To use a mobile phone in a German network, it needs to support the GSM standard (used all over Europe). The German country code is +49.

 

Money

The currency used in Germany and many European countries (except Switzerland) is the Euro. Money can be exchanged at airports or at local banks. Credit cards (e.g. Visa, Mastercard) and Maestro/EC cards can be used to withdraw money from ATMs (called “Geldautomaten”) using your PIN. Please check the map to see where to find the nearest ATMs. Cheques and traveller cheques have become rather uncommon and are hardly accepted anywhere.

 

Nobel Laureate Steven Chu talking to young scientists at #LiNo16. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel Laureate Steven Chu talking to young scientists at #LINO16. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Emergencies

In case of an emergency at the main meeting venue, please contact the staff. Please note that our staff is not authorised to hand out any medication. A paramedic team is present at the meeting venue and can help with all health-related issues. If you have an emergency at a different location, please either contact any of the staff if present, or call 112, the official emergency number that will work in all of the EU countries and in Switzerland. During the meeting, all young scientists will be covered by a health insurance policy provided by the organisers.

 

The Meeting App

There is a conference app for #LINO18. All the information from this post can also be found in there (…and more!). For an in-depth explanation on how to get started with the app, please refer to my colleague Christoph’s guide.

 

Last but Not Least

If you want to get a taste of the “Lindau spirit” prior to the meeting, you are invited to take a look at our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@lindaunobel) and Instagram (@lindaunobel). Throughout the week of the meeting, we will try to post as much interesting content as possible via #LINO18, this year’s official hashtag. Do join the conversation – we’d be happy!

My colleagues and I will be happy to assist you at the Young Scientist Help Desk, should you have any questions. It is going to be a great week, so let’s make the most of it!

And finally, if you haven’t seen them yet, take a look at our new bags, which will soon be yours ;-)

 

Nesrin, Kai, Karen and Nadine (left to right) from the Young Scientist Support team are looking forward to welcoming you in Lindau very soon. Our #LINO18 Meeting Bags are already here waiting for you! Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Die Welt zu Hause in Lindau

Schon seit neun Jahren sind Gastfamilien aus Lindau und Umgebung fester Bestandteil der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Durch ihr Engagement erhalten die Nachwuchswissenschaftler die einzigartige Chance, Lindau und seine Menschen im persönlichen Umfeld kennenzulernen und mehr über Leben und Kultur in Deutschland aus erster Hand zu erfahren.

 

Wiedersehen nach sechs Jahren – Elom Aglago und seine Lindauer Gastfamilie

Brigitte Trojan und Hans Schweickert nehmen schon seit 2011 an den Lindauer Tagungen als Gastfamilie teil. Seitdem haben sie schon sieben Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus aller Welt (aus Ägypten, Japan, Georgien, Chile, dem Iran, dem Libanon und dem Togo) bei sich zu Hause aufgenommen. Ihr erster Gast war 2011 Elom Aglago aus dem Togo. Seitdem sind sie in Kontakt geblieben und in diesem Jahr ist Elom nach Lindau zurückgekehrt, um seine Gastfamilie wiederzusehen.

 

Elom Aglago und seine Gastfamilie in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Elom Aglago und seine Gastfamilie in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Warum sind Sie eine Gastfamilie geworden?

Gastfamilie Trojan: Wir waren gerade frisch nach Lindau in ein neues Haus mit Garten umgezogen, als wir darüber nachdachten, einen Gastwissenschaftler aufzunehmen. Wir lieben es, hier zu Hause in Lindau zu sein, aber wir sind auch offen für neue Kulturen und Sichtweisen. Außerdem sind wir begeistert von den Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Für uns war es darum die perfekte Möglichkeit, Menschen aus der ganzen Welt zu begegnen. Zusätzlich ist es ein wirklich gutes Training und nebenbei verbessern wir unser Englisch.

Für uns war es die perfekte Möglichkeit, Menschen aus der ganzen Welt zu begegnen

Wie war es, als Elom 2011 zu Ihnen kam?

GF: Wir waren glücklich und gesegnet als wir Elom 2011 hier hatten. Wir haben jeden Morgen gemeinsam gefrühstückt und über das tägliche Programm gesprochen. Und wenn er zurückkam, haben wir immer ein abendliches Briefing bekommen und über den Tag bei der Tagung gesprochen. Wir haben jede Menge Inspiration von ihm bekommen; er hat einen wunderbaren Sinn für Humor, ist ruhig und sehr pragmatisch. Und er liebte es, die unterschiedlichsten Themen mit uns zu diskutieren – das ist etwas, das wir wirklich sehr wertschätzen.

 

Wie sind Sie all die Jahre in Kontakt geblieben?

GF: Wir hatten hin und wieder E-Mailkontakt. Und an Weihnachten haben wir uns beispielsweise immer gegenseitig frohe Weihnachten gewünscht. Er bekam Neuigkeiten aus Lindau, wir haben ihm zum Beispiel von den neuen Nachwuchswissenschaftlern berichtet. Gleichzeitig schrieb Elom uns aus dem Togo, Marokko oder aus Frankreich – je nachdem, wo er gerade war –, wenn es bei ihm etwas Neues gab. Er hat seine wissenschaftliche Laufbahn mit uns geteilt, die Forschungsarbeiten, die er veröffentlicht hat und seine wichtigsten Ergebnisse. Vor zwei Jahren hatten wir die Idee, dass er uns wieder besuchen könnte; im Dezember letzten Jahres haben wir dann für den Sommer geplant – und jetzt sitzt er uns gegenüber!

 

Wie war es, einander wiederzusehen?

GF: Wir haben uns am Bahnhof getroffen und waren sehr glücklich, uns wieder zu sehen. Es war sofort wieder diese besondere Wärme und Frische im Raum. Wir haben direkt wieder begonnen, über Unterschiede und unsere Philosophien zu diskutieren, über die unterschiedlichen Rollen von Eltern und der Familie in unseren Kulturen und so weiter. Wir haben ihn sehr vermisst… unsere Katze hat ihn auch sehr vermisst.

 

Elom at the Bavarian Evening during the Lindau Meeting 2011. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Elom Algago

Elom während des Bayerischen Abends auf der Lindauer Tagung 2011. Credit: Elom Algago

 

Ist er, wie Sie ihn in Erinnerung hatten?

GF: Ja und nein. Er wirkt noch genauso frisch und jung wie damals – aber auch ein bisschen seriöser. Es scheint, als habe er seinen Platz gefunden.

Elom Aglago: Ich glaube, ich bin etwas weiser geworden. Ich bin nicht mehr so kindlich. Ich denke, dass meine Gastfamilie hier in Lindau daran ihren Anteil hat. Sie haben mir geholfen, kulturelle Unterschiede zu verstehen, andere Kulturen zu respektieren und von ihnen zu lernen. Ich glaube, das hat alles mit der Lindauer Tagung angefangen. Ich habe zum ersten Mal erlebt, dass wir alle unterschiedlich, aber vor allen Dingen alle individuell, besonders sind. Und das müssen wir jederzeit berücksichtigen.

 

Sind Sie näher dran, einen Nobelpreis zu bekommen als vor sechs Jahren?

EA: Im Moment steht der Nobelpreis nicht auf meiner persönlichen Agenda (lacht). Ich würde gerne administrative Verantwortlichkeiten übernehmen, um den Transfer von Wissen, Technologien und auch Verantwortung nach Afrika zu verbessern. Viele Afrikaner verlieren sich in ihrem Ehrgeiz und sind sich der Mechanismen nicht bewusst, wie sie ihre Ambitionen in die Tat umsetzen können. Ich möchte dabei helfen und plane eine Mischung aus diesen persönlichen Zielen und der Weiterführung meiner derzeitigen Forschung.

 

Haben Sie immer so gute Erfahrungen mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern gemacht wie mit Elom?

GF: Es ist immer wieder eine tolle Möglichkeit, Menschen zu treffen, die die Welt nach vorne bringen können. Alle Nachwuchswissenschaftler waren sehr höflich und haben sich an die Situation angepasst. Sie waren immer sehr dankbar und begierig, in Kontakt zu treten und jede Information in sich auf zu nehmen.

Der erste Zugang zur Welt – Gastfamilie Ober

Gastfamilie Ober nimmt seit 2013 Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei sich auf. Bisher waren immer junge Forscherinnen und Forscher aus Asien bei ihnen, zum Beispiel aus Korea, Taiwan oder Thailand. Häufig kommen zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftler gleichzeitig: Sie können in der Ferienwohnung übernachten. Sohn David (9) genießt die Anwesenheit der ‘fremden’ Gäste und hilft seinen Eltern als Gastgeber.

 

Gastfamilie Ober mit ihren zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftlern Nopphon Weeranoppanant („Nop“, links), Cholpisit Kiattisewee („Ice“, zweiter von rechts) und ihr Gast Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn („Joe“ rechts). Credit: Courtesy of Catharina Ober

Gastfamilie Ober mit ihren zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftlern Nopphon Weeranoppanant („Nop“, links), Cholpisit Kiattisewee („Ice“, zweiter von rechts) und ihrem Gast Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn („Joe“ rechts). Credit: Catharina Ober

 

Warum sind Sie Gastfamilie geworden?

Cathrin Ober: Meine Nichte Theresa hat damals vorgeschlagen, dass wir Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns aufnehmen. Wir waren eher unbedarft und haben gar nicht darüber nachgedacht, Gastfamilie zu werden. Theresa war definitiv die treibende Kraft hinter der Entscheidung. Sie hat schon vor fünf Jahren, als sie erst 14 Jahre alt war, gewusst, dass sie Physik studieren will und ist ganz begeistert von den Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Sie war damals auch schon bei einigen Veranstaltungen mit dabei – beim Grill & Chill zum Beispiel und bei den Matinees. Sie hat uns überzeugt, Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns aufzunehmen und hat versprochen, sich während der Tagung um sie zu kümmern. Als dann die ersten Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns waren, war unser Sohn David ganz begeistert von unserem ‘fremden’ Besuch. Er hat zum Beispiel jeden Morgen das Frühstück für sie vorbereitet. Er war damals erst fünf Jahre alt! Wenn er nicht so engagiert gewesen wäre, hätten wir das vielleicht nicht weiter gemacht, nachdem meine Nichte von Lindau weggezogen ist. Die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen sind für uns als Stadt natürlich eine tolle Sache. Und dass alles so gut funktioniert, liegt eben auch daran, dass jeder mitmacht. Wir finden es gut, unseren Teil beizutragen.

Unser Sohn war ganz begeistert von unserem ‘fremden’ Besuch

Wie ist es, Gastfamilie während der Lindauer Tagungen zu sein, vor allem mit einem Kind?

CO: Es ist immer ein großer Spaß. Uns kommt zu Gute, dass die Wissenschaftler so ein volles Programm haben. Mein Mann und ich sind beide voll berufstätig und machen das Ganze nebenher. Obwohl wir nicht super viel Zeit haben, waren alle Nachwuchswissenschaftler immer sehr dankbar. Am einzigen freien Abend kochen wir für sie ein typisch deutsches Essen. Dieses Jahr gab es Kässpätzle mit geschwenkten Zwiebeln und Sauerkraut für unsere zwei thailändischen Gäste Nop und Ice. Unsere diesjährigen Nachwuchswissenschaftler waren bisher die lustigsten Gäste. Es war der Hit mit ihnen! Sie waren glücklich um jeden Kontakt. Sie haben sich sehr um David bemüht, haben zum Beispiel Tischkicker mit ihm gespielt und wild durcheinander geschwatzt. Vor ein paar Jahren konnte er ja noch kein Englisch sprechen, da ging alles mit Zeichensprache. Jetzt kann er schon ein paar Worte Englisch und probiert es aus. Das finde ich natürlich sehr gut; das ist eine tolle Sache für die Kinder in Gastfamilien. Es ist ein Öffnen zur Welt, sein erster Zugang zur Welt. Er war bei allem mit dabei und genießt jeden Moment. Es ist auch immer er, der die Nachwuchswissenschaftler beim ersten Treffen am Bahnhof als erster findet. David studiert ihre Fotos im Vorhinein und sucht die richtigen Nachwuchswissenschaftler dann am Bahnhof heraus (lacht).

Während des Interviews kommt Sohn David mit seinem Pullover mit der Aufschrift “Time to go and change the world“ herein. Auf die Frage, wie er es findet, dass jedes Jahr Nachwuchswissenschaftler zu Besuch kommen, sagt er: „Schon cool!“

 

Sind sie mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern in Kontakt geblieben, die bei Ihnen zu Gast waren?

CO: Wir sind bisher mit keinem unserer Gäste in Kontakt geblieben. Ich denke, dass es wirklich schwer ist, wenn man einander nur für eine Woche kennengelernt hat. Aber wenn wir wieder Kontakt aufnehmen wollten, dann wäre das sicher mit allen möglich. Unsere Nachwuchswissenschaftler dieses Jahr haben uns sehr direkt gesagt, dass die Hölle losbrechen würde, wenn wir einen Fuß auf Thailand setzen, ohne dass wir uns bei ihnen melden (lacht). Wir zeigen ihnen, wie schön Lindau ist und das war es dann. Wir sind auch nicht so versiert in den Naturwissenschaften. Mit keinem haben wir jemals wirklich über sein Fachgebiet gesprochen. Wir sprechen eher über die Länder und Sitten und die Schwerpunkte im Leben der Nachwuchswissenschaftler.

Ice und Nop waren ebenfalls begeistert von der „tollen Erfahrung“ (Ice) bei ihrer „wundervollen Gastfamilie“ (Nop). Besonders gut gefallen hat beiden der Austausch zu den kulturellen Unterschieden. Die Gespräche beim gemeinsamen Essen waren für Nop ein „sehr wichtiger Teil meiner Erinnerungen an Lindau. Und Spätzle war mein absoluter Favorit!“ (Nop).

 

Eine Familie fürs Leben in Lindau – Gastfamilie Heller

Herr und Frau Heller engagieren sich als Gastfamilie seit 2012. Seitdem haben sie jedes Jahr mindestens einen Nachwuchswissenschaftler während der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen bei sich zu Hause begrüßt.

 

Gastfamilie Heller und Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin Dissaya aus Thailand. Credit: Courtesy of Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

Gastfamilie Heller und Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin Dissaya aus Thailand. Credit: Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

 

Warum haben Sie sich entschieden, Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei sich aufzunehmen?

Herr Heller: Ich habe zehn Jahre im Ausland gelebt und weiß deshalb, dass es schön ist, wenn man Zugang zu Locals bekommt, und bei Bedarf auf ihre Unterstützung zählen kann. Jeder möchte gerne Gastfreundschaft genießen; was im Umkehrschluss dann heißt, diese auch selbst anzubieten. In gewisser Weise kann man so, auch ohne in ein Flugzeug zu steigen, die Welt etwas besser kennenlernen und verstehen. Schließlich bin ich an Wissenschaft im Allgemeinen interessiert, im Besonderen an Astrophysik, Medizin und an Ökonomie.

In gewisser Weise kann man so, auch ohne in ein Flugzeug zu steigen, die Welt etwas besser kennenlernen und verstehen

 Wie ist es, während der Lindauer Tagungen Gastfamilie zu sein?

H: Es bedeutet tolerant und offen zu sein, Rücksicht zu nehmen und einer fremden Person einen Vertrauensbonus entgegen zu bringen. Es ist auf jeden Fall immer spannend, wenn ein völlig unbekannter Mensch ankommt und von einer Minute auf die andere zum Familienmitglied auf Zeit wird. Grundsätzlich ist es eine Bereicherung mit diesen Gästen Zeit zu verbringen und sich auszutauschen und damit ist es die kleinen Anstrengungen auf jeden Fall wert. Die Nachwuchswissenschaftler, die nach Lindau kommen, sind eine globale Elite. So ist es nicht überraschend, dass es angenehme, interessante, fähige und letztlich auch erstaunlich reife Persönlichkeiten sind. Leider ist es uns noch nicht gelungen, einen der Gäste dazu zu bewegen sich hier beruflich nieder zu lassen, obwohl jeder dieser Wissenschaftler ein Gewinn für Deutschland wäre.

 

Sie hatten schon viele Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus verschiedenen Ländern zu Gast. Gab es große Unterschiede zwischen ihnen?

H: Unsere Beobachtung ist, dass sich die jüngere und mobile Generation in der globalisierten Welt immer weiter annähert. Die Träume und Wünsche sind, trotz aller tradierten kulturellen Unterschiede, die gleichen: Sie möchten eine Familie gründen, sich beruflich entfalten, ein Haus besitzen, reisen sowie in einem gewissen Wohlstand, in Frieden und in Sicherheit leben. Vielleicht bedeutet diese globale Annäherung eine Reduktion kultureller Vielfalt, aber aus meiner Sicht überwiegen die positiven Auswirkungen, da Homogenität wie zum Beispiel das Sprechen der gleichen Sprache verbindend wirkt.

 

Können Sie sich an besondere Schlüsselmomente mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern erinnern, die Ihnen im Kopf geblieben sind?

H: 2013 hatten wir eine Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin aus Thailand zu Gast: Dissaya. Mit ihr hatten wir von Beginn an direkt einen sehr guten Draht. Sie ist zu einer Freundin geworden und wir haben mit ihr eine dauerhafte Verbindung, obwohl uns tausende von Kilometern trennen. Während der Tagung hatten wir einige tiefgehende Gespräche bei einem Glas Rotwein. Wir haben über wichtige Dinge des Lebens gesprochen: was es bedeutet, älter zu werden, um eines zu nennen. Das waren berührende Momente. Ich habe sie auch auf eine Motorradtour mitgenommen und ihr die Umgebung gezeigt. Nach ihrem Besuch bei uns, kam Dissaya nach ein paar Monaten sogar noch einmal zurück, um zwei Wochen Urlaub bei uns zu machen. Sie hat uns auch zu ihrer Hochzeit eingeladen, leider haben wir es nicht geschafft, dabei zu sein.

 

Lindau Alumna Dissaya aus Thailand schrieb uns zu ihrer Erfahrung in der Gastfamilie.

Dissaya Pornpattananangkul: Vor dem ersten Treffen mit meiner Gastfamilie erwartete ich nur, Erfahrungen mit den Menschen vor Ort auszutauschen. Als ich dann das erste Mal in Lindau ankam, wartete Herr Heller dort auf mich, um mich abzuholen. Von diesem Moment an hat sich meine Gastfamilie wirklich rührend um mich gekümmert. Sie haben mir viele Orte in Lindau gezeigt. Es war eine der wertvollsten Erfahrungen, die ich im Ausland gemacht habe. Durch sie habe ich für das ganze Leben eine Familie in Lindau bekommen. […] Jeder Moment hier war wirklich sehr besonders. Herr Heller hat mich einmal auf eine Motorradtour in die Berge mitgenommen. Die Sicht war fantastisch. Das war wirklich eine der schönsten Szenerien, die ich je gesehen habe.

 

Alumna Dissaya at the motorcycle tour. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Mr. Heller

Lindau Alumna Dissaya bei ihrer Motorradtour mit Herrn Heller. Credit: Heller

Wir danken den drei Gastfamilien herzlich für Ihr Engagement, Ihre Offenheit und die interessanten Gespräche.